Review for The Howling
After an almost fatal encounter with a serial killer, news reporter Karen White is deeply affected and also suffering from nightmares and amnesia of the incident. To help she goes to a place called 'The Colony' to be treated by noted psychiatrist Dr Waggner. There she hears howling in the night and what should be a safe haven may actually be more terrifying... especially in the dark woods.
The Howling is generally regarded as one of the best werewolf films ever made. Directed by Joe Dante, who went on to direct such classics as Gremlins and Innerspace, his mix of the darkly comic and horror was just what this film needed and upon watching again I can understand why some people actually prefer this over the Oscar-winning An American Werewolf in London. Released the year before, it is a shame that the Academy hadn't introduced the Make-Up award as this film's effects created by Rob Bottin would have most certainly walked away with it.
I found this film to be a lot scarier than I remembered and had an almost slasher-film feel. Unlike, American Werewolf in London, which was clearly a romantic comedy... with werewolves, this film definitely leant hard on the horror aspects and there are moments of genuine fear from the monsters. The make up effects are so effective that you don't once think 'It's only a man in a suit' and in this world of CGI where all creatures are mo-capped or added later, the actors are reacting to something real that was created for them on set which is amazing.
It is odd when I review the sequel before the first one as when I reviewed the sequel a few months ago Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, I was very negative, but when I watched them back to back I could almost understand why that film was the way it was. However, that still doesn't make it a good film and the six sequels (and remake) are still nothing compared to this film.
This Bluray contains a number of extras and if you are a fan of the film you will be overjoyed that they do give the film the set it deserves. Howlings Eternal with Producer Steven A. Lane is a look at the creation of the film and how he got involved with the making of it. Cut to Shreds with Editor Mark Goldblatt really shows just how much work went into making this film look as good as it did. This is why even over thirty years later it still looks good.
Interview with Co-Writer Terence H. Winkless is fine and he was able to at least explain what he brought to the script and the interview with Stop-Motion Animator David Allen is fascinating because I didn't even realise any of the effects were Stop-Motion. In this time of CGI you can't imagine (other than Aardman Animation) anyone doing it like this anymore.
Horrors Hallowed Grounds is a look at the film's locations and is really only for those who are that obsessed with the film that they need to know where certain scenes were filmed.
The commentary by original novel writer Gary Brandner is a great solo commentary as he clearly knows all about the film and cares about what was done to his work. It is recorded more like an interview with someone and this really works rather than just being a solo commentary which can be a little dull or dry at times.
The Howling is clearly a great horror film and most certainly a fantastic werewolf film. I found myself enjoying this film simply because it felt like it was supposed to be scary, rather than just trying to be clever or trying to be tongue-in-cheek. There is a lot of enjoy with this film from every aspect and if you want a film that delivers the scares and black humour in bags, then this is definitely the film for you... though you may want to stay clear of the sequels.